By Nick Said
CAPE TOWN, March 7 (Reuters) - South Africa’s Sharks showed their teeth as they continued an impressive start to the Super Rugby season and moved to the top of the overall table by taming the Jaguares from Argentina with a 33-19 victory at King’s Park on Saturday.
The Durban-based side returned from a tour of Australasia this week but showed no ill-effects of the travel as tries from lock Hyron Andrews, number eight Sikhumbuzo Notshe, centre Andre Esterhuizen and prop Kerron van Vuuren confirmed their status as South Africa’s most likely challengers for the title.
The Sharks have 20 points from their six matches, two more than the New Zealand duo of Waikato Chiefs and Canterbury Crusaders, and Australia’s ACT Brumbies, though those sides have all played a game fewer.
The Auckland Blues ended a run of 25 winless away games in New Zealand when they stunned the Wellington Hurricanes 24-15, though at one stage their hosts had only 12 players on the field.
Hurricanes prop Tyrel Lomax received a red card early in the second half for a dangerous tackle on Blues fullback Stephen Perofeta, before Vaea Fifita and Jordie Barrett were sent to the sin-bin in the final 12 minutes.
Number eight Akira Ioane, wing Mark Telea and a penalty try produced the scores for the visitors, who have now won four of their six games.
Wing Rosko Specman scored a hat-trick of tries as South Africa’s Bulls broke their duck in this year’s competition with a 38-13 bonus-point victory over the Otago Highlanders in Pretoria.
The Brumbies piled more woe on the visiting Sunwolves from Japan as they scored seven tries to claim a 47-14 victory in a game played in Wollongong, near Sydney, having been moved from Osaka due to concerns over the coronavirus outbreak.
"There was plenty of good things to like about our performance. It was pleasing. We’re building momentum nicely," Brumbies coach Dan McKellar said.
The Queensland Reds had a kicking horror show to let a famous victory against the Crusaders slip as the defending champions scraped a 24-20 victory in Christchurch.
The Australian side outscored their hosts four tries to three but missed all their conversions and a penalty to throw away 11 points that could have secured an impressive win.
The Reds tried three kickers in Jock Campbell, Scott Malolua and Bryce Hegarty but none was able to slot points.
In-form centre Andrew Kellaway scored a brace of tries as the Melbourne Rebels thumped South Africa’s Lions 37-17 for a bonus-point victory, but there was more woe for the New South Wales Waratahs as they slumped to a 51-14 home defeat to the seven-try Chiefs. (Reporting By Nick Said; editing by Clare Fallon)